Have you ever wondered what goes into the unique vocabulary that sports broadcasters use? Depending on the sport that is being covered, several oddball terms will be thrown out during the course of a broadcast that takes multiple hours. It takes distinct knowledge of the sport at hand to fully appreciate and understand the value of these terms. Yet, as prospective broadcasters, we can also recognize the special value these terms have to our profession.
Throughout his illustrious playing career, Charles Barkley accomplished almost everything imaginable in the NBA. As the bearer of 11 All-Star selections, the 1993 Most Valuable Player award and a spot on Team USA’s Dream Team in the ’92 Olympics, Barkley knows a thing or two about making an impact wherever he goes. After his playing days were through, Charles joined TNT as a studio analyst on their marquee program, Inside the NBA. Fourteen years later, he has developed into the most polarizing figure in sports broadcasting. Read More
Great example of a person who has completed a journey to the job of his dreams.
After a hiatus I am proud to say we are back with another great interview, this time with Andy Masur of the San Diego Padres. You can follow him on twitter:
@PadsCast or on his own blog Masur’s Musings here: http://www.andy-masur.blogspot.com/.
How long have you been in broadcasting?
I have been in professional broadcasting since 1990, doing various things in the industry. Started out as a top 40 DJ, in Peoria, IL. I worked the overnight shift from 12midnight-5:30am. Moved up to night jock, then got out of top 40. Went home to Chicago and did traffic reports for several different stations in the market. From there I went on to work for the then One On One sports network, doing updates and hosting a weekend show. I then became aware of a job opening at WGN radio and I was fortunate to…
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If you ask me, one of the most important and overlooked parts of being a sports broadcaster is having the ability to not take yourself too seriously. After all, the odds are not every game you do will be ultra-competitive. In these situations, you want to give the viewer/listener something they can still enjoy consuming as entertainment within reason. In the New England area, there are no better examples of this than the tag-team of Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy. You can say what you want about them in terms of how they express their baseball views, but these guys really know how to have fun.
I really admire the penchant these two have for just letting their guards down and allowing their true personalities to come out on the air. It makes them that much more identifiable to viewers/listeners and helps these people feel a real connection to Don and Jerry, almost as if they know them personally. Since Don and Jerry broadcast nearly every Red Sox game on NESN from April through September, this is very important to them, as viewers and listeners feel inclined to keep turning the game on because they never know what hilarious antic they will see next. As aspiring broadcasters, we can all use Orsillo and Remy as a constant reminder that at the end of the day, a significant portion of our job consists of remembering to have fun.
A dramatic, high-stakes competition. A roar emanating from thousands of people in one contained environment that seems like it could spread around the world. An awe-inspiring moment that we will remember forever. This is the true dream of a play-by-play broadcaster. For many of us, one of the primary reasons we are in this business is to hang on to the hope that one day we will be blessed with the remarkable fortune and responsibility of being entrusted to provide the backdrop for one of these great moments. But, the weight of the moment can sometimes be too much for some to handle. It makes sense to become downright frightened if you imagine yourself on national television/radio, doing a postseason/World Series/Super Bowl/you name it game, knowing that millions of people around the country are listening to what exits your mouth. I have always admired the people who have been able to hold themselves together in these moments and not be bogged down by the enormity of the moment at hand. One of the most textbook examples of big-moment genius comes from, in my opinion, the greatest to ever do this BAR NONE: the one and only Vin Scully. Scully drew the assignment of calling Game 1 of the 1988 World Series for NBC. The Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Dodgers proceeded to play one of the most memorable games (that had one of the most memorable endings) in baseball history. The Dodgers entered the bottom of the ninth inning trailing 3-2, having to face an all-time great closer Dennis Eckersley. What followed was simply historic. The actual home-run call doesn’t take place until the 6:50 mark of the video, but viewing it in its entirety paints you an accurate portrayal of Scully’s greatness. You can tell that Scully’s tone while in the midst of Gibson’s at-bat is one of edge-of-his-seat anticipation. It is also one of disbelief, thinking that what is taking place in front of him can’t actually be happening. This all results in the build-up of intense drama for the viewer. Personally, my favorite part of this clip is what Scully does after Gibson hits his improbable home-run: he shuts up and gets out of the way. Letting the exuberation and sheer joy of the crowd speak for itself says more to the viewer than any words ever could. And, when Scully finally does speak again, he utters a tremendously authentic line, “In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened!” As aspiring broadcasters, this is what we strive for. We want to give our audience the best possible experience while they watch and listen to their game. We want to consciously be thinking about what they want to hear and cater to them as much as possible. Over the course of his 64 years, no one has done this better than Vin Scully. We can all learn from his remarkable ability to shine bright along with the game.
So, how do you go about getting into sports broadcasting if you just want to get your foot in the door? As fantasy-like as it would be, we can’t just walk into a professional booth, throw a headset on and go. If you’re really passionate about doing this to make your living, you need to be willing to start from the bottom (I hear you Drizzy) and work you way up the proverbial ladder. High school sports are a tremendous outlet from which to get your start. Personally, I wish I had taken the initiative to do high school sports in my hometown. The games are always entertaining, the vast majority of the kids playing them are doing so just because they love the game (i.e. college basketball) and most importantly: there’s virtually no pressure. Often times, high school sports only air on public access television or get streamed over the Internet. Don’t get me wrong, these are still fine outlets with which to get yourself out there, but in reality not many members of the general public are tuning in to these games. As a broadcaster, this provides us with (in a sense) greater freedoms on the mic. We can just un-filter ourselves (minus profanity of course), not worry about who’s listening to us and just call the game in our own natural tones, as if we’re just conversing with a friend. The best part about all of this is that more broadcasting opportunities are popping up now than ever before in high schools across America. Many high school athletic departments have provided their teams with state of the art technological equipment with which to film their games. This should come as great news to all young, aspiring broadcasters, as it shows that the lower levels of athletic competition care about making their sports technologically relevant. Odds are, if a school is willing to spend a significant amount of cash on camera/game film equipment, they will also be willing to buy the equipment necessary to broadcast their games. This would represent the next step in the technological progression of high school sports. So, if you’re in high school right now or want to make your first-in roads into this field, then what are you waiting for?
Sometimes, I wish I had a better answer to this question. I’m not pursuing sports broadcasting on a whim. I’m not pursuing sports broadcasting because I know someone who knows someone in the business. I’m not even pursuing it because my gut tells me to. No, I have to give the corny answer that I’m doing this because I love sports. Bet you haven’t heard that anywhere before, huh? I hate to give such a generic answer, but then again “what are you doing here?” is one of the most generic questions any person can ask of us, and they ask it to someone every single day. To me, loving sports holds so much more meaning than just a standard reply. For as long as I can remember, I have had the truest obsession and love affair with just about every sport you can conceive of. As a young child, while other kids were playing N-64 games or skateboarding around town (as riveting as those things still are), I looked forward to nothing more than watching football with my Dad. It was these moments, watching the late ’90s-early 2000’s Patriots (which was an adventure and a half) that I believe shaped the man I am today. And the best part? I know there are thousands more of you out there who had similar experiences to me. Sports just magically drew us in while we were young and will probably never leave us.
For me, my love of sports escalated to a higher level. While watching games on television with my father, I realized that I didn’t just want to continue to watch games with him as I got older. Instead, I wanted to be the guy calling the game my Dad was watching, bringing the sport to him and the rest of my family in the coolest way possible. Currently, I am 20 years old, and throughout my young adult life, I have been doing everything within my power to put myself in line for my dream job. I have broadcasted high-school football in my hometown of Danvers, Massachusetts and now currently hold the position of lead play-by-play man for all sports at Westfield State University. These jobs make it the highlight of my day to go to work, and at the end of the day, what’s better than that? They have also reinforced my prior belief that broadcasting is an art, every word you say means something to the person who is hearing it and your personal voice will always shine through. It is my hope that through this blog, I can share some of the many fortunate experiences I have already had in this field while also detailing my future passions within it. It’s very important to me that this is a public space, as I know there are tons of you out there who also want to pursue this career. As you read this blog, I can only hope that something I write will inspire something in you or allow you to make connections to your own personal lives. Above all, I hope to show how exciting sports broadcasting can truly be in my own unique way as well as chronicle my adventure in pursuing my dream. I am incredibly grateful to have you along for the ride.